Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (7)8 Aug 99

Quick Summary: An employer has a defense to a civil sexual harassment lawsuit, if -

   The employer exercised reasonable care to prevent or promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior, and -

   The employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer to avoid harm.  UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, TENTH CIRCUIT, 1999.

   The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently threw out a lawsuit two nurses had won for sexual harassment in Federal District Court.

   The court noted the U.S. Supreme Court now says if the perpetrator has not taken adverse employment action such as demoting the victim, but has only created a hostile environment, the employer can still prevail in court if realistic policies and procedures were in place to prevent and deal with sexual harassment and the victim failed to use those procedures while the abuse continued. Rubidoux v. Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, 173 F. 3d 1291 (10th Cir., 1999).